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Top Republican warns pro-Russia messages are echoed ‘on the House floor’

Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio), who chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Sunday that it was “absolutely true” that some Republican members of Congress were repeating Russian propaganda about the invasion of Ukraine instigated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Turner did not specify which members he was referring to, but he said he agreed with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), who said in an interview with Puck News last week that Russian propaganda had “infected a good chunk of my party’s base” and suggested that conservative media was to blame.

When asked on Sunday, Turner said he agreed with McCaul’s sentiments.

“We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages — some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor,” Turner said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I mean, there are members of Congress today who still incorrectly say that this conflict between Russia and Ukraine is over NATO, which of course, it is not.”

The more that the propaganda “takes hold,” Turner said, “it makes it more difficult for us to really see this as an authoritarian versus democracy battle — which is what it is.”

Turner’s comments come amid a GOP impasse over additional funding for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion. Turner and some of his Republican colleagues have been pushing for more Ukraine aid — a top priority for the White House and Democrats.

But it has faced stiff opposition from many Republicans, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has led calls to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) should he move forward with a vote on an aid package and has made several baseless claims about the conflict.

When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in December traveled to Washington to try to secure a breakthrough for additional U.S. military aid, Greene suggested that the United States should instead try to broker peace.

Greene wrote on X, formerly Twitter, “Why doesn’t anyone in Washington talk about a peace treaty with Russia?? A deal with Putin promising he will not continue any further invasions.”

U.S. allies and NATO members are also growing increasingly worried about future Russian aggression. The Washington Post reported this weekend that if Donald Trump wins the November election, he is proposing to push Ukraine to cede wide swaths of its territory to Russia, thus expanding the reach of Putin’s dictatorship.

Still, some lawmakers are more optimistic about getting some type of deal passed. Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), an outspoken Republican supporter of Ukraine aid, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he believed Johnson will prioritize passing supplemental security assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after Congress returns on Tuesday from a two-week recess.

“I believe he’s fully committed to bringing it up to the floor immediately” after addressing the reauthorization of a contentious national security surveillance program when Congress returns to work, Hill said.

The Senate earlier this year approved a $95.3 billion funding package. Many senators have echoed the White House’s warnings that without a fresh infusion of weapons from the United States, Ukraine risks ceding its war to Russia.

But Johnson, amid fierce opposition from his far-right flank, has so far refused to bring the Senate package to a vote on the House floor.

Hill, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, hinted Sunday that Johnson would likely introduce a version of the supplemental national security package that includes an additional provision to redirect certain frozen Russian assets toward paying for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

However, any changes to the legislation in the House would necessitate significant further delays to the provision of aid, by forcing the chambers to reconcile and approve the differences. But Hill said he believed there is widespread bipartisan support for the new provision, known as the REPO Act.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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